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Two Australian batsman open to playing cricket in Pakistan

It looks like that Pakistan Cricket Board’s effort to host Cricket Australia are going in right direction. There were reports that Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is trying to host Cricket Australia to play at least two one-day internationals in Karachi in March.

A five-match ODI series is scheduled between Pakistan and Australia from March 19-31 in the United Arab Emirates.

Usman Khawaja and Aaron Finch are content to let administrators make a call on Australia’s potential return to Pakistan, the prospect of which grows slimmer each day.

Finch’s team face India in a three-match ODI series which starts on Saturday in Sydney.

Captains Aaron Finch of Australia and Virat Kohli of India pose with the ODI series trophy during the Australia v India ODI Series Captains Trophy Session at SCG on January 11, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Australia then tackle India and Pakistan in two away ODI series which will serve as building blocks for a World Cup defence which is looking decidedly shaky.

Dates and venues for the trip to India were confirmed recently but details of the second series, in which Steve Smith and David Warner might potentially return from year-long suspensions, were yet to be locked in.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) remains upbeat that at least some part of the five-match series in March will be staged in Lahore or Karachi, marking Australia’s first visit since 1998.

The more likely scenario is the United Arab Emirates will host the entire series, with Cricket Australia (CA) citing safety concerns.

Most teams have refused to tour Pakistan since 2009, when gunmen attacked a bus carrying Sri Lankan cricketers.

“It would be great to get cricket back in Pakistan,” Finch said on Friday.

“The passion their fans have got and just the amount of fans … (there are) some pretty empty stadiums in the UAE, Anytime there’s cricket back in Pakistan, they’re swinging from the rafters to get a seat.”

“Is it the right time? I’m not sure … that’s between the boards and the ACA (Australian Cricketers’ Association) to work through.”

Finch and Khawaja are happy to let officials decide if it’s safe for an Aussie ODI tour of Pakistan.

“Obviously, whatever Cricket Australia tells us, that’ll be the big thing,” Khawaja told reporters.

“We’ll leave it to the administrators. They’re pretty good at taking care of us and making sure everything’s safe,” said Khawaja.

“I was born in Pakistan so it won’t be too different for me but it’s still a while away and we’ve (now) got three big games against the best nation in the world.”

CA chief executive Kevin Roberts declared to AAP a fortnight ago that “we’ll never compromise the safety of our players” and “we’ll be taking advice from the experts”.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) advises Australians to “reconsider your need to travel to Pakistan due to the volatile security situation and high threat of terrorist attack, kidnapping and sectarian violence”.

Tim Paine, George Bailey and Ben Cutting were part of a World XI who travelled to Pakistan in 2017, while compatriot Chris Green visited Lahore during last year’s Pakistan Super League.

Earlier, The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Ehsan Mani was optimistic about South Africa cricket team visiting Pakistan, after his latest meeting with local officials.

While talking to Daily Express correspondent, Mani said that he is hopeful that Cricket South Africa will soon send their teams to Pakistan — senior, junior or women’s — after he held fruitful talks with his counterparts and also South African High Commission.

“I reiterated that Pakistan is safe country to come and play cricket and the security situation in the country is drastically improved,” said Mani. “We had talks about South Africa sending their senior, junior or women’s team to Pakistan in the near future.”

He added: “Cricket South Africa will review Internationals Cricket Council (ICC)’s report about security situation in Pakistan while also sending their own security experts to Pakistan for the same purpose.”

(It includes content from Australian Associated Press)

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